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Country Specific Questions & Answers (7)

Yes. Here are two examples, but there are many more. Mozambique’s Family law (No 10/2004), states that immovable property, whether belonging to each spouse individually or as common property, may only be transferred to others with the express permission of both spouses. Section 40 of the Uganda Land Act states that spouses have the right to use, access and live on their husband’s land and they may withhold their consent to stop land transactions.

Several states in India have lowered the tax placed on legal documents usually in the transfer of assets or property (Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himchal Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, and Utter Pradesh). In some states, if land is registered in the name of women, no (or reduced) stamp duty is charged. In other states, if a husband adds his wife to the title, no stamp duty is charged.

In Nepal, the government waives part of the land registration fee when land is registered in a woman’s name. The exemption started at 10 percent in 2006, increasing to 20 percent in 2007 and 25 percent in 2009. As a result, the amount of land registered in women’s names more than tripled. In Ghana, the number of documents registered by women in their own names in the deeds registration system increased substantially between 2005, when there were only two land registries in the whole country, and 2006, when land administration was decentralized and more registries were opened outside the capital. Decentralization was accompanied by a public awareness campaign, informing women and men about the opening of new deeds registry offices where they could register their documents (See, Governing land for women and men).

Other activities that encourage women’s names on documents include promoting the participation of women employees in the registration process and conducting public awareness campaigns that target women and inform them of the importance of land rights and registration, where rights can be registered and under which conditions – service fees, need of proof, etc.

Lao successfully encouraged women’s names to be included on documents by funding the Lao Women’s Union to educate and inform women of their rights. The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) is the official state organization that advocates for gender equity.  For a period of time, the LWU was a very active member of the titling brigades. Gender was integrated into the education, training and information dissemination activities at the village level by the LWU.

Be sure there are at least two signature lines on land documents.

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

Question:
When did Tigray, SNNP, and Oromiya implemented their regional family codes and which components of these laws differ from the Federal Revised Family Code of 2000 (Proclamation No. 213/2000)? Your library includes a link to the English version of Amhara’s Family Code of 2003 (Proclamation No. 79/2003), but I cannot find English versions for the other regions. According to Hallward-Driemeier and Gajigo, Amhara, Oromiya, and Tigray updated their family codes between 2000 and 2005 and SNNP did so between 2005 and 2011. I would like to know the precise years in which these regions, and especially SNNP, implemented their family codes.

Response:
I do not know of copies of the Revised Family Law in English for any state except Amhara.
Tigray passed its own Family Code in 1998, which served as a model for the Federal Code. The Tigray Region Family Code was revised in 2007.
The Oromia Regional State Family Code, Proc. No. 83/2004 passed in 2004.
The SNNP Family Code was passed in 2004, so implementation would have started in 2005. The Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State’s Family Code Proc. No. 75/2004, Debub Negarit Gazetta, 9th Year, Extraordinary Issue No. 1 passed in 2004. I was unable to find it in English, but here’s a comparison of the Federal Family Code and the SNNPR Family Code.

From your question, I am not sure how much control you have over the design of the systematic land titling program, but for the purpose of this answer, I will assume that you have a reasonable level of influence over the design.

If possible, from the beginning it is helpful to involve local organizations or local government personnel who have regular positive contact with women in the community to understand the specific context of the area where systematic registration will take place. This can be as simple as a meeting with local women’s organizations or women leaders to discuss the project, provide information about the process and the law as it relates to women, and then to solicit their input and assistance on how best to ensure women know they have a right to be registered as joint or co-owners and how to implement that right. Identifying and involving women’s organizations will help throughout the project. Local organizations can influence men within households, create pressure to jointly register property, as well as oversee that women are included.

Another critical step will be to ensure that all the documents involved in systematic registration have room for at least two names. If there is only one signature line, only the head of household, usually a man, will sign.

Educating and training project personnel, stakeholders, and beneficiaries about the law and about the value and importance of women’s names being included on the documents is also critical. Beneficiaries, both men and women, will need to understand the process for registering, including, what is required for registration (are there identification documents required, for example) and how much it will cost. Registration personnel can be required to explain the law and to have all adults, who use the land in any capacity, present at the time of demarcation of the land

There are positive examples of incentives being offered for jointly registering property. For example, the cost for the registration can be lower for joint registration than individual registration. The stamp duty might be waived for joint registration, or other financial incentives can be provided.

Finally, if possible, having women as well as men hired as personnel on the project can encourage women to be more engaged. Being gender inclusive in hiring registrars, surveyors, and community educators is likely to lead to more women being named on documents.

Module 4 of the FAO technical guide: Governing Land for Women and Men provides a good checklist of practical steps that can be taken.

While this issue is a concern in many urban and rural settings, there seems to be precious little “how to” information available. What does exist can provide a roadmap, but the details will be dependent on the goal of your project, the current law, and local and national political will.

The most recent research on the topic that I could find comes out of South Africa. I would recommend a book and an article as a good starting place. The book is, UNTITLED: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa, edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, and Ben Cousins, and published in 2017.

The article is, Land Rights Adjudication: Developing Principles and Processes for ESTA and Labour Tenant Right ’ Holders, and was published in June 2017. The article was written by Dr. Rosalie Kingwill for Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA).

The gist of the idea is this:

• Collect evidence from the ground up to understand the local situation/norms of land use.
• Develop standardized evidentiary principles based on current norms where ‘like units’ can be compared with ‘like units’ across varied tenure landscapes to allow for local variation and diversity.
• Develop a system of adjudication with clear-cut principles against which to test the legality or veracity of individual land rights by authoritative means.

The registry for “off-register” rights could be separate or a part of the main land registry depending on the existing system. Namibia has passed an act designed to create new forms of title to immovable property and to create a register for these forms of title. The system is expected to operate parallel to the existing registration system. Admittedly, including non-ownership rights in an existing registry or creating a new registry will be a slow and difficult process.

Gender Specific Issues

Anytime a census of rights is taken, women are at risk. Women, who use land and depend on it may nonetheless not be considered to have a right to that land. Thus, the evidence collectors will need to be aware that they are collecting information on who has what interest in which land, and that this information should be collected from every adult member in a household, not only the head of household. In addition, a focused effort will be required to ensure that women, as well as men, are provided notice and receive ongoing information and communication throughout the process. Including women often requires separate meetings or other accommodations.

As well, when registering of rights/interests occurs, there is usually a perception of increased value of the land. Where there is a significant power differential between men and women, women can lose their right to use the land, once the value of that land is increased. It will be important to monitor the effect of the information gathering and to communicate with the community about its purpose and the hoped for outcome.

This is a big question, but fortunately, much has been written about gender inequality and land rights in Uganda. There are two documents that I think will be useful. First, is an overview of the law and practice related to women’s land rights—a practice guide— Women’s Land Rights in Uganda and the second is the Ugandan Land Policy.

In brief, the practice guide points out some of the legal issues that continue to limit women’s rights to land (for example a weak inheritance law) and customary law practices that maintain inequality between men and women.

What can be done about it?  Uganda has a very gender positive Land Policy that suggests a complete understanding of the issues facing women. If the Land Policy were to be implemented, gender equality in land rights would be much more likely.

Customary Land (2)

From your question, I am not sure how much control you have over the design of the systematic land titling program, but for the purpose of this answer, I will assume that you have a reasonable level of influence over the design.

If possible, from the beginning it is helpful to involve local organizations or local government personnel who have regular positive contact with women in the community to understand the specific context of the area where systematic registration will take place. This can be as simple as a meeting with local women’s organizations or women leaders to discuss the project, provide information about the process and the law as it relates to women, and then to solicit their input and assistance on how best to ensure women know they have a right to be registered as joint or co-owners and how to implement that right. Identifying and involving women’s organizations will help throughout the project. Local organizations can influence men within households, create pressure to jointly register property, as well as oversee that women are included.

Another critical step will be to ensure that all the documents involved in systematic registration have room for at least two names. If there is only one signature line, only the head of household, usually a man, will sign.

Educating and training project personnel, stakeholders, and beneficiaries about the law and about the value and importance of women’s names being included on the documents is also critical. Beneficiaries, both men and women, will need to understand the process for registering, including, what is required for registration (are there identification documents required, for example) and how much it will cost. Registration personnel can be required to explain the law and to have all adults, who use the land in any capacity, present at the time of demarcation of the land

There are positive examples of incentives being offered for jointly registering property. For example, the cost for the registration can be lower for joint registration than individual registration. The stamp duty might be waived for joint registration, or other financial incentives can be provided.

Finally, if possible, having women as well as men hired as personnel on the project can encourage women to be more engaged. Being gender inclusive in hiring registrars, surveyors, and community educators is likely to lead to more women being named on documents.

Module 4 of the FAO technical guide: Governing Land for Women and Men provides a good checklist of practical steps that can be taken.

As you can imagine, there are no easy answers to this question, and people will disagree. Here are a few thoughts.

(1) I do think that very often when titling of customary land is initiated by the government and not by the community, the goal is often to get land into the market or to make land easier to acquire (through compulsory acquisition) by the government and by purchasers and lessees. Communities themselves will object to titling of their land if they believe they need to be protected from the government not by the government. If titling is a pre-cursor to customary land entering the market, then I do think there is a real possibility of it being a threat to women’s and men’s rights to their customary land. The threat will be greatest for the most vulnerable—those who are poor, are outsiders, are minorities, or those who do not have an equal voice in decision-making. Often women stand to lose the most because they are not generally the decision-makers in the community, and their interests may be ignored when land is formalized or there is a decision to formalize it or not.

For both women’s land rights and community land rights, titling may not be a sufficient solution to a lack of secure tenure. Both the debate on women’s land rights and the one on community land rights highlight that the mere issue of land titling does not cover the implicit diversity of land rights. In fact, “instead of increasing legal certainty, individual titling could become a source of conflict and legal insecurity if it conflicts with customary rules regarding tenure, for instance as regards the communal ownership of land” (De Schutter 2011: 269). 1

(2) Titling of customary land, which is driven by the community for the benefit of the community may be very different. Part of the answer to whether it is good or bad for individual men and women in the community will be dependent on the definition of who is a member of the community. For example, women who marry into a community and use community land for the benefit of their families may still not be considered a member of the community and have no decision-making power. They may lose their rights to the land they use, even if the community, rather than the government, initiates the titling process. As well, if temporary users of the land (herders or wood gatherers, for example) are not considered community members, they too may lose their rights to use the land.

(3) Tenure security can be safeguarded under various approaches that make clear the rights of land users and owners: formal titles; clear, long-term rental contracts; reliable lease agreements; or formal recognition of customary and legitimate informal rights, with accessible and effective dispute mechanisms.2 Formal recognition of customary land is different from titling of customary land. Customary tenure regimes that are formally recognized by governments in law, hold a set of rights within a regulatory framework. For example, formally recognized rights to customary land may give the users of that land the right to sell products from the land but not the land itself. Generally the group that has formal recognition of customary land is given the right to manage the land within a set of guidelines. Customary land may be formally recognized without providing individual titles or even documenting individual land rights holders or community members.

Formal recognition of customary land without titling that land can provide protection for the community as a whole. The issue then becomes what governance structure is in place to govern the management of the land and who is included and who is excluded from land governance. Again, those who are not represented risk losing rights to land, but some of those risks can be handled within the legal regulations developed under the formal recognition.

Some 18% of the world’s land is formally recognized as either owned by or designated for indigenous peoples and communities. 3 However, studies estimate that while a significant portion of the world’s land is held under collective tenure, large areas of that land are not formally or legally recognized. While it has been estimated that up to 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s land is subject to customary tenure, according to a study of 19 countries in the region, only 13% of the land is designated for indigenous peoples and local communities and only 3% of the land is legally owned under community-based tenure regimes. 4

There are a number of reasons why protecting collective tenure is important for sustainable development and why it is gaining traction in development practice. The understanding of local realities of land and resource use and management often embodied in collective tenure systems can result in efficient use of resources. Research provides evidence that where they are able to manage the land, indigenous peoples and local communities are good stewards of the land and natural resources.

Similarly, formal recognition of collective tenure over land can help communities attain food security and increase their income. When rights are formalized and therefore perceived by the community as more secure, the community is encouraged to invest in the long-term sustainability of the land, thus increasing its productivity. 5

Finally, as natural resources are being increasingly “commoditized,” 6 it becomes more important for communities to clarify existing property rights, especially where ownership rights are not easily identified. The growing demand for food and natural resources worldwide has led to increased commercial pressures on land, often resulting in negative impacts for all affected communities. 7 Expropriation by the state for commercial reasons and large-scale land acquisition can dispossess entire communities. The protection of collective rights has the potential to give communities a legal basis to defend their rights in the face of outside pressures. 8 Similarly, formally recognizing customary land rights provides a degree of legal protection for those who risk losing their rights in the transition to privatized rights.

(4) One last issue to consider in titling customary land. Arable land under customary tenure is most often allocated by customary authorities to be used and managed individually or by households. Some arable land may be used communally, though this is not common. Because customary arable land is usually allocated to households, many of the gender issues that arise in this context are similar to those that apply to privately-held arable land, titling land in the name of the head of household, for example. This similarity is not always recognized in law, thus creating a legal gap—family laws, which provide for joint ownership may exclude land held under customary tenure.

Notes:

De Schutter O. (2011) ‘How not to think of land-grabbing: three critiques of large-scale investments in farmland’, Journal of Peasant Studies 38, 249. FAO, “Governing Land for Women and Men: A Technical Guide to Support the Achievement of Responsible Gender-Equitable Governance Land Tenure,” 1 GOVERNANCE OF TENURE TECHNICAL GUIDE (FAO 2013).
Landmark: Global Platform of Indigenous and Community Lands.
RRI. 2015. Who Owns the World’s Land? A Global Baseline of Formally Recognized Indigenous and Community Land Rights. Washington, D.C.: RRI.
IFAD, 2006. Community-based natural resource management How knowledge is managed, disseminated and used. In Brazil, for example, a group which gained legal title to communal land invested in sustainably harvesting acai palm, which had almost disappeared from the region. See RRI 2015. IRF 2015: Securing Indigenous and Community Rights in the Future We Want.
Cotula, L. 2015. Investment treaties, land rights and a shrinking planet.
Knapman, C., and P. Sutz. 2016. Reconsidering approaches to women’s land rights in sub-Saharan Africa. IIED.
Brinkhurst, M. 2015. Using the Law for Resource Justice. IIED.

Economic Development (3)

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Target 1.4: By 2030, aims to ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.
  • Indicator 1.4.2: Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation, and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Target 5.a: Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
  • Indicator 5.a.1: (a) Proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure.

The first place to look is on the UNSTAT website:  https://unstats.un.org/sdgs. Under Quick Links, go to SDG database: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/indicators/database/. You will see at the bottom of that page that there is the ability to search for data on specific indicators, but indicator 1.4.2 and 5.a.1 do not have available data. However, if you click on metadata repository https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/metadata/, it will take you to a page where the indicators are listed.

On that page click on SDG 1.4.2 and also 5.a.1, and you will go to a page for each that will describe the following:

  • Institutional Information (which institution is responsible for the data collection, etc.)
  • Concepts and Definitions
  • Methodology
  • Data Sources
  • Data Availability
  • Data Calendar
  • Data Providers
  • Data Compilers
  • References

“The custodians of 1.4.2 together with FAO and UN Women, custodians of 5.a.1, developed a standardized, consolidated and succinct survey instrument with essential questions as data collection requirements are partly similar. The standardization of indicator definitions improves data comparability across countries. The scope and capacity for standardized data collection, analysis and reporting across NSOs is expected to rise with progressive data collection and implementation of the methodology. The module will be made available to NSOs (National Statistic Offices) for integration in survey instruments already in place, and will be used by other international household survey programs working with NSOs, (such as LSMS and UIS). The module can be used by any other complementary survey instrument implemented by other actors, using a data collection protocol that meets SDG 1.4.2 requirements, while the data produced are approved and reported by NSO to the custodians. In addition, both the USAID and the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) have agreed to incorporate the essential questions from 5.a.1 and 1.4.2 into future land impact evaluations and has already done so for upcoming ones. The Property Rights Index initiative has integrated the SDG questions into its data collection tools on perceptions of tenure security. This range of efforts will further expand data availability and leverage efforts by NSOs to report on this indicator. Country-specific metadata will be elaborated that provides an inventory of the tenure types and type of documents in use, identifies which documents are legally recognized as evidence of land rights with images of each document, and elaborates on the correspondence between the two types of data sets (survey data and administrative data). This instrument will ensure consistency of definitions across countries. These country specific metadata will also be used for customizing surveys.” (emphasis added)

The Gender and Land Rights Statistical Database (http://www.fao.org/gender-landrights-database/en/) provides what data is available by country for the following indicators:

1f.           Distribution of Agricultural Holders by Sex (females)

1m.        Distribution of Agricultural Holders by Sex (males)

2f.           Distribution of Agricultural Landowners by Sex (females)

2m.        Distribution of Agricultural Landowners by Sex (males)

3f.            Incidence of Female Agricultural Landowners

3m.          Incidence of Male Agricultural Landowners

4f.            Distribution of Agricultural Land Area Owned by Sex (Females)

4m.          Distribution of Agricultural Land Area Owned by Sex (Males)

A technical note is available to explain the indicators, and you can view them by region or by country.

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

These articles do not go as far as you would like (or we would like), but they do talk about women’s economic empowerment related to women’s land rights. You will see that many of the studies are related to formalizing rights—partially that is true because it’s a good before and after situation for quantitative research. Similarly, these are summaries of the articles, but the full article can be obtained by going to the link at the bottom of the page.

Environment (1)

Here is a link to four summaries of articles that I think will be useful. The link will take you to a summary of the study on the research consortium website. At the bottom of the page there will be a link to the full article. Most of what I have seen has to do with soil conservation (including fallowing). I suppose one reason is that it is easily measured.  

Here they are:

Category: Environment

Ethiopia (2)

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

Question:
When did Tigray, SNNP, and Oromiya implemented their regional family codes and which components of these laws differ from the Federal Revised Family Code of 2000 (Proclamation No. 213/2000)? Your library includes a link to the English version of Amhara’s Family Code of 2003 (Proclamation No. 79/2003), but I cannot find English versions for the other regions. According to Hallward-Driemeier and Gajigo, Amhara, Oromiya, and Tigray updated their family codes between 2000 and 2005 and SNNP did so between 2005 and 2011. I would like to know the precise years in which these regions, and especially SNNP, implemented their family codes.

Response:
I do not know of copies of the Revised Family Law in English for any state except Amhara.
Tigray passed its own Family Code in 1998, which served as a model for the Federal Code. The Tigray Region Family Code was revised in 2007.
The Oromia Regional State Family Code, Proc. No. 83/2004 passed in 2004.
The SNNP Family Code was passed in 2004, so implementation would have started in 2005. The Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State’s Family Code Proc. No. 75/2004, Debub Negarit Gazetta, 9th Year, Extraordinary Issue No. 1 passed in 2004. I was unable to find it in English, but here’s a comparison of the Federal Family Code and the SNNPR Family Code.

Family Law (4)

Yes. Here are two examples, but there are many more. Mozambique’s Family law (No 10/2004), states that immovable property, whether belonging to each spouse individually or as common property, may only be transferred to others with the express permission of both spouses. Section 40 of the Uganda Land Act states that spouses have the right to use, access and live on their husband’s land and they may withhold their consent to stop land transactions.

In my opinion, laws against polygamy are ineffective at best and harmful to women at worst. Even though women very often do not want their husbands to take a second wife, and a second wife (and children) can stretch already limited resources, making polygamy illegal does not stop polygamy. But, if polygamy is illegal, subsequent marriages will be illegal and unregistered, and subsequent wives will have no legal rights to their husband’s income or assets. Second wives are often women who are vulnerable because they are young and have little or no income or choice about who they marry. I do not know who the “we” refers to in your question, but I think thoroughly understanding the issues related to polygamy for all women would be a critical first step. Where does polygamy occur? Under what conditions does polygamy occur? What is the attitude toward it in rural areas? Urban areas? What is the current law? What issues does the current law raise for first and second or subsequent wives? Who wants to change the law and why? What could the unintended consequences be? If polygamy, which was legal, is outlawed, the law should be very careful not to apply to current polygamous marriages—should not apply retroactively because that could be very harmful to women and children already in a polygamous family.

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

Question:
When did Tigray, SNNP, and Oromiya implemented their regional family codes and which components of these laws differ from the Federal Revised Family Code of 2000 (Proclamation No. 213/2000)? Your library includes a link to the English version of Amhara’s Family Code of 2003 (Proclamation No. 79/2003), but I cannot find English versions for the other regions. According to Hallward-Driemeier and Gajigo, Amhara, Oromiya, and Tigray updated their family codes between 2000 and 2005 and SNNP did so between 2005 and 2011. I would like to know the precise years in which these regions, and especially SNNP, implemented their family codes.

Response:
I do not know of copies of the Revised Family Law in English for any state except Amhara.
Tigray passed its own Family Code in 1998, which served as a model for the Federal Code. The Tigray Region Family Code was revised in 2007.
The Oromia Regional State Family Code, Proc. No. 83/2004 passed in 2004.
The SNNP Family Code was passed in 2004, so implementation would have started in 2005. The Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State’s Family Code Proc. No. 75/2004, Debub Negarit Gazetta, 9th Year, Extraordinary Issue No. 1 passed in 2004. I was unable to find it in English, but here’s a comparison of the Federal Family Code and the SNNPR Family Code.

Ghana (1)

Several states in India have lowered the tax placed on legal documents usually in the transfer of assets or property (Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himchal Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, and Utter Pradesh). In some states, if land is registered in the name of women, no (or reduced) stamp duty is charged. In other states, if a husband adds his wife to the title, no stamp duty is charged.

In Nepal, the government waives part of the land registration fee when land is registered in a woman’s name. The exemption started at 10 percent in 2006, increasing to 20 percent in 2007 and 25 percent in 2009. As a result, the amount of land registered in women’s names more than tripled. In Ghana, the number of documents registered by women in their own names in the deeds registration system increased substantially between 2005, when there were only two land registries in the whole country, and 2006, when land administration was decentralized and more registries were opened outside the capital. Decentralization was accompanied by a public awareness campaign, informing women and men about the opening of new deeds registry offices where they could register their documents (See, Governing land for women and men).

Other activities that encourage women’s names on documents include promoting the participation of women employees in the registration process and conducting public awareness campaigns that target women and inform them of the importance of land rights and registration, where rights can be registered and under which conditions – service fees, need of proof, etc.

Lao successfully encouraged women’s names to be included on documents by funding the Lao Women’s Union to educate and inform women of their rights. The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) is the official state organization that advocates for gender equity.  For a period of time, the LWU was a very active member of the titling brigades. Gender was integrated into the education, training and information dissemination activities at the village level by the LWU.

Be sure there are at least two signature lines on land documents.

India (1)

Several states in India have lowered the tax placed on legal documents usually in the transfer of assets or property (Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himchal Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, and Utter Pradesh). In some states, if land is registered in the name of women, no (or reduced) stamp duty is charged. In other states, if a husband adds his wife to the title, no stamp duty is charged.

In Nepal, the government waives part of the land registration fee when land is registered in a woman’s name. The exemption started at 10 percent in 2006, increasing to 20 percent in 2007 and 25 percent in 2009. As a result, the amount of land registered in women’s names more than tripled. In Ghana, the number of documents registered by women in their own names in the deeds registration system increased substantially between 2005, when there were only two land registries in the whole country, and 2006, when land administration was decentralized and more registries were opened outside the capital. Decentralization was accompanied by a public awareness campaign, informing women and men about the opening of new deeds registry offices where they could register their documents (See, Governing land for women and men).

Other activities that encourage women’s names on documents include promoting the participation of women employees in the registration process and conducting public awareness campaigns that target women and inform them of the importance of land rights and registration, where rights can be registered and under which conditions – service fees, need of proof, etc.

Lao successfully encouraged women’s names to be included on documents by funding the Lao Women’s Union to educate and inform women of their rights. The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) is the official state organization that advocates for gender equity.  For a period of time, the LWU was a very active member of the titling brigades. Gender was integrated into the education, training and information dissemination activities at the village level by the LWU.

Be sure there are at least two signature lines on land documents.

Inheritance (2)

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

No. The right to renounce one’s inheritance is universally recognized throughout the world. In most cases heirs renounce their inheritance in order to avoid unwanted expenses, responsibilities, or debts that are associated with the estate. A review of literature on the issue of renunciation found that the right to renounce a right to inherit property is an important safeguard against unwanted debt in France1, Germany2, Lithuania3, Italy4, the Czech Republic5, Spain6, all of Latin America7, Burkina Faso and India8, Israel and Turkey9, Tunisia10, Jordan11, and many other countries.

The majority of countries that have addressed renunciation have done so by employing procedural safeguards. Many of these are countries where Islamic law is recognized as the formal law of the land, but customary law, which is often more restrictive for women than Islamic law, is also practiced.

The courts that administer the division of inheritance in Palestine have introduced procedures to protect women’s inheritance rights and address social pressures on women to renounce their rights. Under that law, acts to renounce rights must be registered and witnessed. The inheritance process also mandates periods for reflection to safeguard, women from urgent family and social pressure. Where the inheritance of land is concerned, the law requires that women must first register their rights before they may renounce them.

Similarly, in Jordan, amendments to the Personal Status Code in 2010 led to an instruction to offer protection to women’s inheritance rights. The instruction provides a three-month period for reflection after the division of inheritance rights during which heirs cannot renounce rights, except in special circumstances. If a woman would like to renounce her inheritance rights after that time, the court must first explain to her the consequences of the renunciation and, in the case of immovable property such as land, the property must first be registered in the name of the heirs before it can be renounced and transferred.12

In Italy, a public notice of renunciation is required. When a successor renounces her inheritance, she must give public notice of her refusal before a Notary Public or a public officer, since the act of renouncing an inheritance cannot be made in a private document.13

In many Arabic countries, land inherited by women can be exchanged or renounced for cash.14

Notes:

Rollot, Catherine, 2011. “Death & Debt: More French Heirs Renounce Succession of Departed, Indebted Parents.”
Siegwart, Holgar, 2013. “How to Disclaim an Inheritance in Germany.”
Government of Lithuania, 2001. The Law of Succession.
Italian Inheritance.
Government of Czech Republic, Civil Code, Articles 463-468.
Walton, Clifford Stevens, 2003. The Civil Law in Spain and Spanish America.
Diana Deere, Carmen and Magdalena Leon, 2001. Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America.
FAO. Women’s Rights to Land and Other Natural Resources.
Layis, Aharon. Women and Islamic Law in a Non-Muslim State.
10 Ben Salem, Lilia. Tunisia, in Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, ed. Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin (New York, NY: Freedom House; Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010).
11 World Bank, 2013.  Jordan Country Gender Assessment. Economic Participation, Agency And Access To Justice In Jordan; Poverty Reduction And Economic Management Department, Middle East And North Africa.
12 Id.
13 Italian Inheritance.
14 Sait, M Siraj and Tempra, Ombretta, 2015.  Land Fragmentation in Muslim Communities: Traditional Challenges And Innovative Consolidation Approaches, University Of East London, United Kingdom.

Joint Tenure (4)

Yes. Here are two examples, but there are many more. Mozambique’s Family law (No 10/2004), states that immovable property, whether belonging to each spouse individually or as common property, may only be transferred to others with the express permission of both spouses. Section 40 of the Uganda Land Act states that spouses have the right to use, access and live on their husband’s land and they may withhold their consent to stop land transactions.

Several states in India have lowered the tax placed on legal documents usually in the transfer of assets or property (Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himchal Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, and Utter Pradesh). In some states, if land is registered in the name of women, no (or reduced) stamp duty is charged. In other states, if a husband adds his wife to the title, no stamp duty is charged.

In Nepal, the government waives part of the land registration fee when land is registered in a woman’s name. The exemption started at 10 percent in 2006, increasing to 20 percent in 2007 and 25 percent in 2009. As a result, the amount of land registered in women’s names more than tripled. In Ghana, the number of documents registered by women in their own names in the deeds registration system increased substantially between 2005, when there were only two land registries in the whole country, and 2006, when land administration was decentralized and more registries were opened outside the capital. Decentralization was accompanied by a public awareness campaign, informing women and men about the opening of new deeds registry offices where they could register their documents (See, Governing land for women and men).

Other activities that encourage women’s names on documents include promoting the participation of women employees in the registration process and conducting public awareness campaigns that target women and inform them of the importance of land rights and registration, where rights can be registered and under which conditions – service fees, need of proof, etc.

Lao successfully encouraged women’s names to be included on documents by funding the Lao Women’s Union to educate and inform women of their rights. The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) is the official state organization that advocates for gender equity.  For a period of time, the LWU was a very active member of the titling brigades. Gender was integrated into the education, training and information dissemination activities at the village level by the LWU.

Be sure there are at least two signature lines on land documents.

From your question, I am not sure how much control you have over the design of the systematic land titling program, but for the purpose of this answer, I will assume that you have a reasonable level of influence over the design.

If possible, from the beginning it is helpful to involve local organizations or local government personnel who have regular positive contact with women in the community to understand the specific context of the area where systematic registration will take place. This can be as simple as a meeting with local women’s organizations or women leaders to discuss the project, provide information about the process and the law as it relates to women, and then to solicit their input and assistance on how best to ensure women know they have a right to be registered as joint or co-owners and how to implement that right. Identifying and involving women’s organizations will help throughout the project. Local organizations can influence men within households, create pressure to jointly register property, as well as oversee that women are included.

Another critical step will be to ensure that all the documents involved in systematic registration have room for at least two names. If there is only one signature line, only the head of household, usually a man, will sign.

Educating and training project personnel, stakeholders, and beneficiaries about the law and about the value and importance of women’s names being included on the documents is also critical. Beneficiaries, both men and women, will need to understand the process for registering, including, what is required for registration (are there identification documents required, for example) and how much it will cost. Registration personnel can be required to explain the law and to have all adults, who use the land in any capacity, present at the time of demarcation of the land

There are positive examples of incentives being offered for jointly registering property. For example, the cost for the registration can be lower for joint registration than individual registration. The stamp duty might be waived for joint registration, or other financial incentives can be provided.

Finally, if possible, having women as well as men hired as personnel on the project can encourage women to be more engaged. Being gender inclusive in hiring registrars, surveyors, and community educators is likely to lead to more women being named on documents.

Module 4 of the FAO technical guide: Governing Land for Women and Men provides a good checklist of practical steps that can be taken.

No. Very few countries have universal joint tenure, which means that all property brought into marriage or acquired in marriage in any manner is jointly held. A presumption of joint tenure for married couples means that there is a presumption that a married couple holds property acquired during marriage jointly. Often there are exceptions for property that is inherited or property that is gifted to one of the married couple. Thus, in most cases, even when married couples have joint tenure, ancestral land is excluded.

Some countries allow separate property to become joint property if the non-owner contributes to the value of the property (pays for improvements, for example).

Land Registration (5)

Yes. Here are two examples, but there are many more. Mozambique’s Family law (No 10/2004), states that immovable property, whether belonging to each spouse individually or as common property, may only be transferred to others with the express permission of both spouses. Section 40 of the Uganda Land Act states that spouses have the right to use, access and live on their husband’s land and they may withhold their consent to stop land transactions.

Several states in India have lowered the tax placed on legal documents usually in the transfer of assets or property (Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himchal Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, and Utter Pradesh). In some states, if land is registered in the name of women, no (or reduced) stamp duty is charged. In other states, if a husband adds his wife to the title, no stamp duty is charged.

In Nepal, the government waives part of the land registration fee when land is registered in a woman’s name. The exemption started at 10 percent in 2006, increasing to 20 percent in 2007 and 25 percent in 2009. As a result, the amount of land registered in women’s names more than tripled. In Ghana, the number of documents registered by women in their own names in the deeds registration system increased substantially between 2005, when there were only two land registries in the whole country, and 2006, when land administration was decentralized and more registries were opened outside the capital. Decentralization was accompanied by a public awareness campaign, informing women and men about the opening of new deeds registry offices where they could register their documents (See, Governing land for women and men).

Other activities that encourage women’s names on documents include promoting the participation of women employees in the registration process and conducting public awareness campaigns that target women and inform them of the importance of land rights and registration, where rights can be registered and under which conditions – service fees, need of proof, etc.

Lao successfully encouraged women’s names to be included on documents by funding the Lao Women’s Union to educate and inform women of their rights. The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) is the official state organization that advocates for gender equity.  For a period of time, the LWU was a very active member of the titling brigades. Gender was integrated into the education, training and information dissemination activities at the village level by the LWU.

Be sure there are at least two signature lines on land documents.

From your question, I am not sure how much control you have over the design of the systematic land titling program, but for the purpose of this answer, I will assume that you have a reasonable level of influence over the design.

If possible, from the beginning it is helpful to involve local organizations or local government personnel who have regular positive contact with women in the community to understand the specific context of the area where systematic registration will take place. This can be as simple as a meeting with local women’s organizations or women leaders to discuss the project, provide information about the process and the law as it relates to women, and then to solicit their input and assistance on how best to ensure women know they have a right to be registered as joint or co-owners and how to implement that right. Identifying and involving women’s organizations will help throughout the project. Local organizations can influence men within households, create pressure to jointly register property, as well as oversee that women are included.

Another critical step will be to ensure that all the documents involved in systematic registration have room for at least two names. If there is only one signature line, only the head of household, usually a man, will sign.

Educating and training project personnel, stakeholders, and beneficiaries about the law and about the value and importance of women’s names being included on the documents is also critical. Beneficiaries, both men and women, will need to understand the process for registering, including, what is required for registration (are there identification documents required, for example) and how much it will cost. Registration personnel can be required to explain the law and to have all adults, who use the land in any capacity, present at the time of demarcation of the land

There are positive examples of incentives being offered for jointly registering property. For example, the cost for the registration can be lower for joint registration than individual registration. The stamp duty might be waived for joint registration, or other financial incentives can be provided.

Finally, if possible, having women as well as men hired as personnel on the project can encourage women to be more engaged. Being gender inclusive in hiring registrars, surveyors, and community educators is likely to lead to more women being named on documents.

Module 4 of the FAO technical guide: Governing Land for Women and Men provides a good checklist of practical steps that can be taken.

While this issue is a concern in many urban and rural settings, there seems to be precious little “how to” information available. What does exist can provide a roadmap, but the details will be dependent on the goal of your project, the current law, and local and national political will.

The most recent research on the topic that I could find comes out of South Africa. I would recommend a book and an article as a good starting place. The book is, UNTITLED: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa, edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, and Ben Cousins, and published in 2017.

The article is, Land Rights Adjudication: Developing Principles and Processes for ESTA and Labour Tenant Right ’ Holders, and was published in June 2017. The article was written by Dr. Rosalie Kingwill for Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA).

The gist of the idea is this:

• Collect evidence from the ground up to understand the local situation/norms of land use.
• Develop standardized evidentiary principles based on current norms where ‘like units’ can be compared with ‘like units’ across varied tenure landscapes to allow for local variation and diversity.
• Develop a system of adjudication with clear-cut principles against which to test the legality or veracity of individual land rights by authoritative means.

The registry for “off-register” rights could be separate or a part of the main land registry depending on the existing system. Namibia has passed an act designed to create new forms of title to immovable property and to create a register for these forms of title. The system is expected to operate parallel to the existing registration system. Admittedly, including non-ownership rights in an existing registry or creating a new registry will be a slow and difficult process.

Gender Specific Issues

Anytime a census of rights is taken, women are at risk. Women, who use land and depend on it may nonetheless not be considered to have a right to that land. Thus, the evidence collectors will need to be aware that they are collecting information on who has what interest in which land, and that this information should be collected from every adult member in a household, not only the head of household. In addition, a focused effort will be required to ensure that women, as well as men, are provided notice and receive ongoing information and communication throughout the process. Including women often requires separate meetings or other accommodations.

As well, when registering of rights/interests occurs, there is usually a perception of increased value of the land. Where there is a significant power differential between men and women, women can lose their right to use the land, once the value of that land is increased. It will be important to monitor the effect of the information gathering and to communicate with the community about its purpose and the hoped for outcome.

As you can imagine, there are no easy answers to this question, and people will disagree. Here are a few thoughts.

(1) I do think that very often when titling of customary land is initiated by the government and not by the community, the goal is often to get land into the market or to make land easier to acquire (through compulsory acquisition) by the government and by purchasers and lessees. Communities themselves will object to titling of their land if they believe they need to be protected from the government not by the government. If titling is a pre-cursor to customary land entering the market, then I do think there is a real possibility of it being a threat to women’s and men’s rights to their customary land. The threat will be greatest for the most vulnerable—those who are poor, are outsiders, are minorities, or those who do not have an equal voice in decision-making. Often women stand to lose the most because they are not generally the decision-makers in the community, and their interests may be ignored when land is formalized or there is a decision to formalize it or not.

For both women’s land rights and community land rights, titling may not be a sufficient solution to a lack of secure tenure. Both the debate on women’s land rights and the one on community land rights highlight that the mere issue of land titling does not cover the implicit diversity of land rights. In fact, “instead of increasing legal certainty, individual titling could become a source of conflict and legal insecurity if it conflicts with customary rules regarding tenure, for instance as regards the communal ownership of land” (De Schutter 2011: 269). 1

(2) Titling of customary land, which is driven by the community for the benefit of the community may be very different. Part of the answer to whether it is good or bad for individual men and women in the community will be dependent on the definition of who is a member of the community. For example, women who marry into a community and use community land for the benefit of their families may still not be considered a member of the community and have no decision-making power. They may lose their rights to the land they use, even if the community, rather than the government, initiates the titling process. As well, if temporary users of the land (herders or wood gatherers, for example) are not considered community members, they too may lose their rights to use the land.

(3) Tenure security can be safeguarded under various approaches that make clear the rights of land users and owners: formal titles; clear, long-term rental contracts; reliable lease agreements; or formal recognition of customary and legitimate informal rights, with accessible and effective dispute mechanisms.2 Formal recognition of customary land is different from titling of customary land. Customary tenure regimes that are formally recognized by governments in law, hold a set of rights within a regulatory framework. For example, formally recognized rights to customary land may give the users of that land the right to sell products from the land but not the land itself. Generally the group that has formal recognition of customary land is given the right to manage the land within a set of guidelines. Customary land may be formally recognized without providing individual titles or even documenting individual land rights holders or community members.

Formal recognition of customary land without titling that land can provide protection for the community as a whole. The issue then becomes what governance structure is in place to govern the management of the land and who is included and who is excluded from land governance. Again, those who are not represented risk losing rights to land, but some of those risks can be handled within the legal regulations developed under the formal recognition.

Some 18% of the world’s land is formally recognized as either owned by or designated for indigenous peoples and communities. 3 However, studies estimate that while a significant portion of the world’s land is held under collective tenure, large areas of that land are not formally or legally recognized. While it has been estimated that up to 60% of sub-Saharan Africa’s land is subject to customary tenure, according to a study of 19 countries in the region, only 13% of the land is designated for indigenous peoples and local communities and only 3% of the land is legally owned under community-based tenure regimes. 4

There are a number of reasons why protecting collective tenure is important for sustainable development and why it is gaining traction in development practice. The understanding of local realities of land and resource use and management often embodied in collective tenure systems can result in efficient use of resources. Research provides evidence that where they are able to manage the land, indigenous peoples and local communities are good stewards of the land and natural resources.

Similarly, formal recognition of collective tenure over land can help communities attain food security and increase their income. When rights are formalized and therefore perceived by the community as more secure, the community is encouraged to invest in the long-term sustainability of the land, thus increasing its productivity. 5

Finally, as natural resources are being increasingly “commoditized,” 6 it becomes more important for communities to clarify existing property rights, especially where ownership rights are not easily identified. The growing demand for food and natural resources worldwide has led to increased commercial pressures on land, often resulting in negative impacts for all affected communities. 7 Expropriation by the state for commercial reasons and large-scale land acquisition can dispossess entire communities. The protection of collective rights has the potential to give communities a legal basis to defend their rights in the face of outside pressures. 8 Similarly, formally recognizing customary land rights provides a degree of legal protection for those who risk losing their rights in the transition to privatized rights.

(4) One last issue to consider in titling customary land. Arable land under customary tenure is most often allocated by customary authorities to be used and managed individually or by households. Some arable land may be used communally, though this is not common. Because customary arable land is usually allocated to households, many of the gender issues that arise in this context are similar to those that apply to privately-held arable land, titling land in the name of the head of household, for example. This similarity is not always recognized in law, thus creating a legal gap—family laws, which provide for joint ownership may exclude land held under customary tenure.

Notes:

De Schutter O. (2011) ‘How not to think of land-grabbing: three critiques of large-scale investments in farmland’, Journal of Peasant Studies 38, 249. FAO, “Governing Land for Women and Men: A Technical Guide to Support the Achievement of Responsible Gender-Equitable Governance Land Tenure,” 1 GOVERNANCE OF TENURE TECHNICAL GUIDE (FAO 2013).
Landmark: Global Platform of Indigenous and Community Lands.
RRI. 2015. Who Owns the World’s Land? A Global Baseline of Formally Recognized Indigenous and Community Land Rights. Washington, D.C.: RRI.
IFAD, 2006. Community-based natural resource management How knowledge is managed, disseminated and used. In Brazil, for example, a group which gained legal title to communal land invested in sustainably harvesting acai palm, which had almost disappeared from the region. See RRI 2015. IRF 2015: Securing Indigenous and Community Rights in the Future We Want.
Cotula, L. 2015. Investment treaties, land rights and a shrinking planet.
Knapman, C., and P. Sutz. 2016. Reconsidering approaches to women’s land rights in sub-Saharan Africa. IIED.
Brinkhurst, M. 2015. Using the Law for Resource Justice. IIED.

Lao (1)

Several states in India have lowered the tax placed on legal documents usually in the transfer of assets or property (Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himchal Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, and Utter Pradesh). In some states, if land is registered in the name of women, no (or reduced) stamp duty is charged. In other states, if a husband adds his wife to the title, no stamp duty is charged.

In Nepal, the government waives part of the land registration fee when land is registered in a woman’s name. The exemption started at 10 percent in 2006, increasing to 20 percent in 2007 and 25 percent in 2009. As a result, the amount of land registered in women’s names more than tripled. In Ghana, the number of documents registered by women in their own names in the deeds registration system increased substantially between 2005, when there were only two land registries in the whole country, and 2006, when land administration was decentralized and more registries were opened outside the capital. Decentralization was accompanied by a public awareness campaign, informing women and men about the opening of new deeds registry offices where they could register their documents (See, Governing land for women and men).

Other activities that encourage women’s names on documents include promoting the participation of women employees in the registration process and conducting public awareness campaigns that target women and inform them of the importance of land rights and registration, where rights can be registered and under which conditions – service fees, need of proof, etc.

Lao successfully encouraged women’s names to be included on documents by funding the Lao Women’s Union to educate and inform women of their rights. The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) is the official state organization that advocates for gender equity.  For a period of time, the LWU was a very active member of the titling brigades. Gender was integrated into the education, training and information dissemination activities at the village level by the LWU.

Be sure there are at least two signature lines on land documents.

Legal Concepts (6)

In my opinion, laws against polygamy are ineffective at best and harmful to women at worst. Even though women very often do not want their husbands to take a second wife, and a second wife (and children) can stretch already limited resources, making polygamy illegal does not stop polygamy. But, if polygamy is illegal, subsequent marriages will be illegal and unregistered, and subsequent wives will have no legal rights to their husband’s income or assets. Second wives are often women who are vulnerable because they are young and have little or no income or choice about who they marry. I do not know who the “we” refers to in your question, but I think thoroughly understanding the issues related to polygamy for all women would be a critical first step. Where does polygamy occur? Under what conditions does polygamy occur? What is the attitude toward it in rural areas? Urban areas? What is the current law? What issues does the current law raise for first and second or subsequent wives? Who wants to change the law and why? What could the unintended consequences be? If polygamy, which was legal, is outlawed, the law should be very careful not to apply to current polygamous marriages—should not apply retroactively because that could be very harmful to women and children already in a polygamous family.

Question:
When did Tigray, SNNP, and Oromiya implemented their regional family codes and which components of these laws differ from the Federal Revised Family Code of 2000 (Proclamation No. 213/2000)? Your library includes a link to the English version of Amhara’s Family Code of 2003 (Proclamation No. 79/2003), but I cannot find English versions for the other regions. According to Hallward-Driemeier and Gajigo, Amhara, Oromiya, and Tigray updated their family codes between 2000 and 2005 and SNNP did so between 2005 and 2011. I would like to know the precise years in which these regions, and especially SNNP, implemented their family codes.

Response:
I do not know of copies of the Revised Family Law in English for any state except Amhara.
Tigray passed its own Family Code in 1998, which served as a model for the Federal Code. The Tigray Region Family Code was revised in 2007.
The Oromia Regional State Family Code, Proc. No. 83/2004 passed in 2004.
The SNNP Family Code was passed in 2004, so implementation would have started in 2005. The Southern Nation, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State’s Family Code Proc. No. 75/2004, Debub Negarit Gazetta, 9th Year, Extraordinary Issue No. 1 passed in 2004. I was unable to find it in English, but here’s a comparison of the Federal Family Code and the SNNPR Family Code.

This is a big question, but fortunately, much has been written about gender inequality and land rights in Uganda. There are two documents that I think will be useful. First, is an overview of the law and practice related to women’s land rights—a practice guide— Women’s Land Rights in Uganda and the second is the Ugandan Land Policy.

In brief, the practice guide points out some of the legal issues that continue to limit women’s rights to land (for example a weak inheritance law) and customary law practices that maintain inequality between men and women.

What can be done about it?  Uganda has a very gender positive Land Policy that suggests a complete understanding of the issues facing women. If the Land Policy were to be implemented, gender equality in land rights would be much more likely.

With tenancy in common, each person holds (owns) a portion of the whole piece of land, although that portion is not demarcated. If a husband and wife hold land as tenants in common and one of them dies without leaving a will, his/her share will be part of his/her estate and will be distributed to his/her heirs. When land is held in common, the owners have a right to do what they want with their portion of the land. For example, a portion of the land can be sold to someone outside of the tenancy in common.

In contrast, joint tenure means that more than one person holds (owns) the whole of the property. Land held in joint tenure can only be acted on with the consent of all the owners, as each owner is acting for all owners on the whole property. For example, for land to be disposed of, all the joint owners must agree to do so. While still alive, a joint owner may transfer his/her interest to all the other owners, but to no other person. In some property systems, if a joint owner dies, his/her interest in the land will vest in the surviving owner(s). This is called the right of survivorship. In other places, if one person dies, the land automatically becomes tenancy in common, and the land is divided among all the owners with the deceased owner’s land going to his/her heirs.

Note: Joint tenure can also be called joint ownership. Tenancy in common can also be called common tenure or common ownership.

Category: Legal Concepts

No. The right to renounce one’s inheritance is universally recognized throughout the world. In most cases heirs renounce their inheritance in order to avoid unwanted expenses, responsibilities, or debts that are associated with the estate. A review of literature on the issue of renunciation found that the right to renounce a right to inherit property is an important safeguard against unwanted debt in France1, Germany2, Lithuania3, Italy4, the Czech Republic5, Spain6, all of Latin America7, Burkina Faso and India8, Israel and Turkey9, Tunisia10, Jordan11, and many other countries.

The majority of countries that have addressed renunciation have done so by employing procedural safeguards. Many of these are countries where Islamic law is recognized as the formal law of the land, but customary law, which is often more restrictive for women than Islamic law, is also practiced.

The courts that administer the division of inheritance in Palestine have introduced procedures to protect women’s inheritance rights and address social pressures on women to renounce their rights. Under that law, acts to renounce rights must be registered and witnessed. The inheritance process also mandates periods for reflection to safeguard, women from urgent family and social pressure. Where the inheritance of land is concerned, the law requires that women must first register their rights before they may renounce them.

Similarly, in Jordan, amendments to the Personal Status Code in 2010 led to an instruction to offer protection to women’s inheritance rights. The instruction provides a three-month period for reflection after the division of inheritance rights during which heirs cannot renounce rights, except in special circumstances. If a woman would like to renounce her inheritance rights after that time, the court must first explain to her the consequences of the renunciation and, in the case of immovable property such as land, the property must first be registered in the name of the heirs before it can be renounced and transferred.12

In Italy, a public notice of renunciation is required. When a successor renounces her inheritance, she must give public notice of her refusal before a Notary Public or a public officer, since the act of renouncing an inheritance cannot be made in a private document.13

In many Arabic countries, land inherited by women can be exchanged or renounced for cash.14

Notes:

Rollot, Catherine, 2011. “Death & Debt: More French Heirs Renounce Succession of Departed, Indebted Parents.”
Siegwart, Holgar, 2013. “How to Disclaim an Inheritance in Germany.”
Government of Lithuania, 2001. The Law of Succession.
Italian Inheritance.
Government of Czech Republic, Civil Code, Articles 463-468.
Walton, Clifford Stevens, 2003. The Civil Law in Spain and Spanish America.
Diana Deere, Carmen and Magdalena Leon, 2001. Empowering Women: Land and Property Rights in Latin America.
FAO. Women’s Rights to Land and Other Natural Resources.
Layis, Aharon. Women and Islamic Law in a Non-Muslim State.
10 Ben Salem, Lilia. Tunisia, in Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa: Progress Amid Resistance, ed. Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin (New York, NY: Freedom House; Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2010).
11 World Bank, 2013.  Jordan Country Gender Assessment. Economic Participation, Agency And Access To Justice In Jordan; Poverty Reduction And Economic Management Department, Middle East And North Africa.
12 Id.
13 Italian Inheritance.
14 Sait, M Siraj and Tempra, Ombretta, 2015.  Land Fragmentation in Muslim Communities: Traditional Challenges And Innovative Consolidation Approaches, University Of East London, United Kingdom.

No. Very few countries have universal joint tenure, which means that all property brought into marriage or acquired in marriage in any manner is jointly held. A presumption of joint tenure for married couples means that there is a presumption that a married couple holds property acquired during marriage jointly. Often there are exceptions for property that is inherited or property that is gifted to one of the married couple. Thus, in most cases, even when married couples have joint tenure, ancestral land is excluded.

Some countries allow separate property to become joint property if the non-owner contributes to the value of the property (pays for improvements, for example).

Misc. (1)

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Target 1.4: By 2030, aims to ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.
  • Indicator 1.4.2: Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation, and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Target 5.a: Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
  • Indicator 5.a.1: (a) Proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure.

The first place to look is on the UNSTAT website:  https://unstats.un.org/sdgs. Under Quick Links, go to SDG database: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/indicators/database/. You will see at the bottom of that page that there is the ability to search for data on specific indicators, but indicator 1.4.2 and 5.a.1 do not have available data. However, if you click on metadata repository https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/metadata/, it will take you to a page where the indicators are listed.

On that page click on SDG 1.4.2 and also 5.a.1, and you will go to a page for each that will describe the following:

  • Institutional Information (which institution is responsible for the data collection, etc.)
  • Concepts and Definitions
  • Methodology
  • Data Sources
  • Data Availability
  • Data Calendar
  • Data Providers
  • Data Compilers
  • References

“The custodians of 1.4.2 together with FAO and UN Women, custodians of 5.a.1, developed a standardized, consolidated and succinct survey instrument with essential questions as data collection requirements are partly similar. The standardization of indicator definitions improves data comparability across countries. The scope and capacity for standardized data collection, analysis and reporting across NSOs is expected to rise with progressive data collection and implementation of the methodology. The module will be made available to NSOs (National Statistic Offices) for integration in survey instruments already in place, and will be used by other international household survey programs working with NSOs, (such as LSMS and UIS). The module can be used by any other complementary survey instrument implemented by other actors, using a data collection protocol that meets SDG 1.4.2 requirements, while the data produced are approved and reported by NSO to the custodians. In addition, both the USAID and the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) have agreed to incorporate the essential questions from 5.a.1 and 1.4.2 into future land impact evaluations and has already done so for upcoming ones. The Property Rights Index initiative has integrated the SDG questions into its data collection tools on perceptions of tenure security. This range of efforts will further expand data availability and leverage efforts by NSOs to report on this indicator. Country-specific metadata will be elaborated that provides an inventory of the tenure types and type of documents in use, identifies which documents are legally recognized as evidence of land rights with images of each document, and elaborates on the correspondence between the two types of data sets (survey data and administrative data). This instrument will ensure consistency of definitions across countries. These country specific metadata will also be used for customizing surveys.” (emphasis added)

The Gender and Land Rights Statistical Database (http://www.fao.org/gender-landrights-database/en/) provides what data is available by country for the following indicators:

1f.           Distribution of Agricultural Holders by Sex (females)

1m.        Distribution of Agricultural Holders by Sex (males)

2f.           Distribution of Agricultural Landowners by Sex (females)

2m.        Distribution of Agricultural Landowners by Sex (males)

3f.            Incidence of Female Agricultural Landowners

3m.          Incidence of Male Agricultural Landowners

4f.            Distribution of Agricultural Land Area Owned by Sex (Females)

4m.          Distribution of Agricultural Land Area Owned by Sex (Males)

A technical note is available to explain the indicators, and you can view them by region or by country.

Mozambique (1)

Yes. Here are two examples, but there are many more. Mozambique’s Family law (No 10/2004), states that immovable property, whether belonging to each spouse individually or as common property, may only be transferred to others with the express permission of both spouses. Section 40 of the Uganda Land Act states that spouses have the right to use, access and live on their husband’s land and they may withhold their consent to stop land transactions.

Nepal (1)

Several states in India have lowered the tax placed on legal documents usually in the transfer of assets or property (Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Himchal Pradesh, Madya Pradesh, Maharastra, Punjab, and Utter Pradesh). In some states, if land is registered in the name of women, no (or reduced) stamp duty is charged. In other states, if a husband adds his wife to the title, no stamp duty is charged.

In Nepal, the government waives part of the land registration fee when land is registered in a woman’s name. The exemption started at 10 percent in 2006, increasing to 20 percent in 2007 and 25 percent in 2009. As a result, the amount of land registered in women’s names more than tripled. In Ghana, the number of documents registered by women in their own names in the deeds registration system increased substantially between 2005, when there were only two land registries in the whole country, and 2006, when land administration was decentralized and more registries were opened outside the capital. Decentralization was accompanied by a public awareness campaign, informing women and men about the opening of new deeds registry offices where they could register their documents (See, Governing land for women and men).

Other activities that encourage women’s names on documents include promoting the participation of women employees in the registration process and conducting public awareness campaigns that target women and inform them of the importance of land rights and registration, where rights can be registered and under which conditions – service fees, need of proof, etc.

Lao successfully encouraged women’s names to be included on documents by funding the Lao Women’s Union to educate and inform women of their rights. The Lao Women’s Union (LWU) is the official state organization that advocates for gender equity.  For a period of time, the LWU was a very active member of the titling brigades. Gender was integrated into the education, training and information dissemination activities at the village level by the LWU.

Be sure there are at least two signature lines on land documents.

Outcomes (2)

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

Polygamy (1)

In my opinion, laws against polygamy are ineffective at best and harmful to women at worst. Even though women very often do not want their husbands to take a second wife, and a second wife (and children) can stretch already limited resources, making polygamy illegal does not stop polygamy. But, if polygamy is illegal, subsequent marriages will be illegal and unregistered, and subsequent wives will have no legal rights to their husband’s income or assets. Second wives are often women who are vulnerable because they are young and have little or no income or choice about who they marry. I do not know who the “we” refers to in your question, but I think thoroughly understanding the issues related to polygamy for all women would be a critical first step. Where does polygamy occur? Under what conditions does polygamy occur? What is the attitude toward it in rural areas? Urban areas? What is the current law? What issues does the current law raise for first and second or subsequent wives? Who wants to change the law and why? What could the unintended consequences be? If polygamy, which was legal, is outlawed, the law should be very careful not to apply to current polygamous marriages—should not apply retroactively because that could be very harmful to women and children already in a polygamous family.

Renting & Leasing (1)

While this issue is a concern in many urban and rural settings, there seems to be precious little “how to” information available. What does exist can provide a roadmap, but the details will be dependent on the goal of your project, the current law, and local and national political will.

The most recent research on the topic that I could find comes out of South Africa. I would recommend a book and an article as a good starting place. The book is, UNTITLED: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa, edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, and Ben Cousins, and published in 2017.

The article is, Land Rights Adjudication: Developing Principles and Processes for ESTA and Labour Tenant Right ’ Holders, and was published in June 2017. The article was written by Dr. Rosalie Kingwill for Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA).

The gist of the idea is this:

• Collect evidence from the ground up to understand the local situation/norms of land use.
• Develop standardized evidentiary principles based on current norms where ‘like units’ can be compared with ‘like units’ across varied tenure landscapes to allow for local variation and diversity.
• Develop a system of adjudication with clear-cut principles against which to test the legality or veracity of individual land rights by authoritative means.

The registry for “off-register” rights could be separate or a part of the main land registry depending on the existing system. Namibia has passed an act designed to create new forms of title to immovable property and to create a register for these forms of title. The system is expected to operate parallel to the existing registration system. Admittedly, including non-ownership rights in an existing registry or creating a new registry will be a slow and difficult process.

Gender Specific Issues

Anytime a census of rights is taken, women are at risk. Women, who use land and depend on it may nonetheless not be considered to have a right to that land. Thus, the evidence collectors will need to be aware that they are collecting information on who has what interest in which land, and that this information should be collected from every adult member in a household, not only the head of household. In addition, a focused effort will be required to ensure that women, as well as men, are provided notice and receive ongoing information and communication throughout the process. Including women often requires separate meetings or other accommodations.

As well, when registering of rights/interests occurs, there is usually a perception of increased value of the land. Where there is a significant power differential between men and women, women can lose their right to use the land, once the value of that land is increased. It will be important to monitor the effect of the information gathering and to communicate with the community about its purpose and the hoped for outcome.

Rwanda (1)

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

SDGs (1)

  • Goal 1: End poverty in all its forms everywhere
  • Target 1.4: By 2030, aims to ensure that all men and women, in particular the poor and the vulnerable, have equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to basic services, ownership and control over land and other forms of property, inheritance, natural resources, appropriate new technology and financial services, including microfinance.
  • Indicator 1.4.2: Proportion of total adult population with secure tenure rights to land, with legally recognized documentation, and who perceive their rights to land as secure, by sex and by type of tenure.
  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls
  • Target 5.a: Undertake reforms to give women equal rights to economic resources, as well as access to ownership and control over land and other forms of property, financial services, inheritance and natural resources, in accordance with national laws.
  • Indicator 5.a.1: (a) Proportion of total agricultural population with ownership or secure rights over agricultural land, by sex; and (b) share of women among owners or rights-bearers of agricultural land, by type of tenure.

The first place to look is on the UNSTAT website:  https://unstats.un.org/sdgs. Under Quick Links, go to SDG database: https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/indicators/database/. You will see at the bottom of that page that there is the ability to search for data on specific indicators, but indicator 1.4.2 and 5.a.1 do not have available data. However, if you click on metadata repository https://unstats.un.org/sdgs/metadata/, it will take you to a page where the indicators are listed.

On that page click on SDG 1.4.2 and also 5.a.1, and you will go to a page for each that will describe the following:

  • Institutional Information (which institution is responsible for the data collection, etc.)
  • Concepts and Definitions
  • Methodology
  • Data Sources
  • Data Availability
  • Data Calendar
  • Data Providers
  • Data Compilers
  • References

“The custodians of 1.4.2 together with FAO and UN Women, custodians of 5.a.1, developed a standardized, consolidated and succinct survey instrument with essential questions as data collection requirements are partly similar. The standardization of indicator definitions improves data comparability across countries. The scope and capacity for standardized data collection, analysis and reporting across NSOs is expected to rise with progressive data collection and implementation of the methodology. The module will be made available to NSOs (National Statistic Offices) for integration in survey instruments already in place, and will be used by other international household survey programs working with NSOs, (such as LSMS and UIS). The module can be used by any other complementary survey instrument implemented by other actors, using a data collection protocol that meets SDG 1.4.2 requirements, while the data produced are approved and reported by NSO to the custodians. In addition, both the USAID and the Millennium Challenge Cooperation (MCC) have agreed to incorporate the essential questions from 5.a.1 and 1.4.2 into future land impact evaluations and has already done so for upcoming ones. The Property Rights Index initiative has integrated the SDG questions into its data collection tools on perceptions of tenure security. This range of efforts will further expand data availability and leverage efforts by NSOs to report on this indicator. Country-specific metadata will be elaborated that provides an inventory of the tenure types and type of documents in use, identifies which documents are legally recognized as evidence of land rights with images of each document, and elaborates on the correspondence between the two types of data sets (survey data and administrative data). This instrument will ensure consistency of definitions across countries. These country specific metadata will also be used for customizing surveys.” (emphasis added)

The Gender and Land Rights Statistical Database (http://www.fao.org/gender-landrights-database/en/) provides what data is available by country for the following indicators:

1f.           Distribution of Agricultural Holders by Sex (females)

1m.        Distribution of Agricultural Holders by Sex (males)

2f.           Distribution of Agricultural Landowners by Sex (females)

2m.        Distribution of Agricultural Landowners by Sex (males)

3f.            Incidence of Female Agricultural Landowners

3m.          Incidence of Male Agricultural Landowners

4f.            Distribution of Agricultural Land Area Owned by Sex (Females)

4m.          Distribution of Agricultural Land Area Owned by Sex (Males)

A technical note is available to explain the indicators, and you can view them by region or by country.

Tanzania (2)

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

While this issue is a concern in many urban and rural settings, there seems to be precious little “how to” information available. What does exist can provide a roadmap, but the details will be dependent on the goal of your project, the current law, and local and national political will.

The most recent research on the topic that I could find comes out of South Africa. I would recommend a book and an article as a good starting place. The book is, UNTITLED: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa, edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, and Ben Cousins, and published in 2017.

The article is, Land Rights Adjudication: Developing Principles and Processes for ESTA and Labour Tenant Right ’ Holders, and was published in June 2017. The article was written by Dr. Rosalie Kingwill for Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA).

The gist of the idea is this:

• Collect evidence from the ground up to understand the local situation/norms of land use.
• Develop standardized evidentiary principles based on current norms where ‘like units’ can be compared with ‘like units’ across varied tenure landscapes to allow for local variation and diversity.
• Develop a system of adjudication with clear-cut principles against which to test the legality or veracity of individual land rights by authoritative means.

The registry for “off-register” rights could be separate or a part of the main land registry depending on the existing system. Namibia has passed an act designed to create new forms of title to immovable property and to create a register for these forms of title. The system is expected to operate parallel to the existing registration system. Admittedly, including non-ownership rights in an existing registry or creating a new registry will be a slow and difficult process.

Gender Specific Issues

Anytime a census of rights is taken, women are at risk. Women, who use land and depend on it may nonetheless not be considered to have a right to that land. Thus, the evidence collectors will need to be aware that they are collecting information on who has what interest in which land, and that this information should be collected from every adult member in a household, not only the head of household. In addition, a focused effort will be required to ensure that women, as well as men, are provided notice and receive ongoing information and communication throughout the process. Including women often requires separate meetings or other accommodations.

As well, when registering of rights/interests occurs, there is usually a perception of increased value of the land. Where there is a significant power differential between men and women, women can lose their right to use the land, once the value of that land is increased. It will be important to monitor the effect of the information gathering and to communicate with the community about its purpose and the hoped for outcome.

Uganda (1)

This is a big question, but fortunately, much has been written about gender inequality and land rights in Uganda. There are two documents that I think will be useful. First, is an overview of the law and practice related to women’s land rights—a practice guide— Women’s Land Rights in Uganda and the second is the Ugandan Land Policy.

In brief, the practice guide points out some of the legal issues that continue to limit women’s rights to land (for example a weak inheritance law) and customary law practices that maintain inequality between men and women.

What can be done about it?  Uganda has a very gender positive Land Policy that suggests a complete understanding of the issues facing women. If the Land Policy were to be implemented, gender equality in land rights would be much more likely.

Urban Land & Property (1)

While this issue is a concern in many urban and rural settings, there seems to be precious little “how to” information available. What does exist can provide a roadmap, but the details will be dependent on the goal of your project, the current law, and local and national political will.

The most recent research on the topic that I could find comes out of South Africa. I would recommend a book and an article as a good starting place. The book is, UNTITLED: Securing Land Tenure in Urban and Rural South Africa, edited by Donna Hornby, Rosalie Kingwill, Lauren Royston, and Ben Cousins, and published in 2017.

The article is, Land Rights Adjudication: Developing Principles and Processes for ESTA and Labour Tenant Right ’ Holders, and was published in June 2017. The article was written by Dr. Rosalie Kingwill for Association for Rural Advancement (AFRA).

The gist of the idea is this:

• Collect evidence from the ground up to understand the local situation/norms of land use.
• Develop standardized evidentiary principles based on current norms where ‘like units’ can be compared with ‘like units’ across varied tenure landscapes to allow for local variation and diversity.
• Develop a system of adjudication with clear-cut principles against which to test the legality or veracity of individual land rights by authoritative means.

The registry for “off-register” rights could be separate or a part of the main land registry depending on the existing system. Namibia has passed an act designed to create new forms of title to immovable property and to create a register for these forms of title. The system is expected to operate parallel to the existing registration system. Admittedly, including non-ownership rights in an existing registry or creating a new registry will be a slow and difficult process.

Gender Specific Issues

Anytime a census of rights is taken, women are at risk. Women, who use land and depend on it may nonetheless not be considered to have a right to that land. Thus, the evidence collectors will need to be aware that they are collecting information on who has what interest in which land, and that this information should be collected from every adult member in a household, not only the head of household. In addition, a focused effort will be required to ensure that women, as well as men, are provided notice and receive ongoing information and communication throughout the process. Including women often requires separate meetings or other accommodations.

As well, when registering of rights/interests occurs, there is usually a perception of increased value of the land. Where there is a significant power differential between men and women, women can lose their right to use the land, once the value of that land is increased. It will be important to monitor the effect of the information gathering and to communicate with the community about its purpose and the hoped for outcome.

Zambia (2)

Research indicates that when women are empowered through having secure rights to land, their agricultural productivity improves; they are more included in household decision-making, which has a positive impact on their families; and their income may improve. Here are some examples from Africa and beyond.

Agricultural yields and investment:

  • In Rwanda, land titling boosted land investment among male-headed households by 10% and for female-headed households by nearly twice as much (Ali, et al., 2014).
  • Women’s concern over loss of land reduces their investments in land even when their husbands are alive. In Zambia, secure inheritance rights for widows are associated with higher land investment by married couples, including fertilizer application, fallowing, and use of labor-intensive tillage practices meant to reduce erosion and run-off. Investment is highest when the widow inherits, lower when someone in her family inherits, and lowest when the land reverts to the chief or another family member (Dillon & Voena, 2017).

Inclusivity:

Female farmers are largely excluded from modern contract-farming arrangements because they lack secure control over land, labor, and other resources required to guarantee a reliable flow of produce (FAO-SOFA Team & Doss, 2011; Croppenstadt, Goldstein, & Rosas, 2013).

Secure land rights are important for the well-being of families, whether a woman is head of her household or lives in a household headed by a man (Smith, Ramakrishnan, Ndiaye, & Martorell, 2003). Households where women have rights to land are likely to spend a larger portion of household income on food (Menon, ven der Meulen Rodgers, & Nguyen, 2014); an increase in female landholdings is associated with increases in household food expenditure and levels of child education (Katz & Chamorro, 2002); and children of mothers who own land are less likely to be severely underweight because women have control over household decisions (Allendorf, 2007).

  • In Tanzania, women who reported having strong property and inheritance rights were more likely to be employed outside of the home, more likely to be self-employed, and more likely to have higher gross earnings. Moreover, women in communities with stronger property and inheritance rights for women have greater individual savings (Peterman, 2011). A study in Ethiopia also found that when the larger community of women has land rights, individual women’s rights are improved (Holden & Bezu, 2014).
  • In Ethiopia, in the event of a no-fault divorce, women who brought in some land to the marriage expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of a divorce than those who did not bring land into the marriage, and women who individually own more livestock and hold user rights on a larger share of the household’s land expect to receive more land and livestock in the event of divorce than those with no livestock or a smaller share of household land. In addition, women who bring more assets into the household, either at the time of marriage or through inheritance, have more say in farming decisions (Fafchamps & Quisumbing, 2002).

Labor and Income:

  • In Rwanda, a study by Ali (2017) shows  higher incomes for both men and women, a drop in farm labor, and women’s shift toward self- and wage-employment.

How do we achieve that?

This is a big question with many moving parts. The critical things are to: (1) understand the context, including the law, customs of different groups, the land tenure systems, the political situation, and what women want to focus on—what are the biggest constraints women face (for example, widows lose rights to their land); and (2) understand which land rights you want to secure or improve—the right to use, the right to benefit from, the right to manage/make decisions—and what would make them more secure (longer term, more enforcable, not changed by marital status, etc.).

Ali, D. A., Deininger, K., & Goldstein, M. (2014). Environmental and gender impacts of land tenure regularization in Africa: pilot evidence from Rwanda. Journal of Development Economics, 110, 262-275.

Allendorf, K. (2007). Do women’s land rights promote empowerment and child health in Nepal? World Development, 35(11), 1975-1988.

Dillon, B., & Voena, A. (2017, January). Inheritance Customs and Agricultural Investment.

Croppenstadt, A., Goldstein, M. , & Rosas, N. (2013). Gender and Agriculture, Inefficiencies, Segregation, and Low Productivity Traps. Washington, D.C.: World Bank, Development Economics Vice Presidency, Partnerships, Capacity Building Unit.

Fafchamps, M., & Quisumbing, A. (2002). Control and Ownership Over Assets Within Rural Ethiopian Households. Journal of Development Studies, 38(6).

FAO-SOFA Team, & Doss, C. (2011). The Role of Women and Agriculture. Rome: FAO.

Holden, S., & Bezu, S. (2014). Joint Land Certification, Gendered Preferences, and Land-related Decisions: Are Wives Getting More Involved?”. As, Norway: Centre for Land Tenure Studies/School of Economics and Business Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Katz, E., & Chamorro, J. (2002). Gender, land rights, and the household economy in rural Nicaragua and Honduras. Madison, WI: USAID/BASIS CRSP.

Menon, N., ven der Meulen Rodgers, Y., & Nguyen, H. (2014). Women’s Land Rights and Children’s Human Capital in Vietnam. World Development, 54, 18-31.

Peterman, A. (2011). Women’s Property Rights and Gendered Policies: Implications for Women’s Long-term Welfare in Rural Tanzania. Journal of Development Studies, 47(1).

Smith, L., Ramakrishnan, U., Ndiaye, A., & Martorell, R. (2003). The Importance of Women’s Status for Child Nutrition in Developing Countries. IFPRI.

From your question, I am not sure how much control you have over the design of the systematic land titling program, but for the purpose of this answer, I will assume that you have a reasonable level of influence over the design.

If possible, from the beginning it is helpful to involve local organizations or local government personnel who have regular positive contact with women in the community to understand the specific context of the area where systematic registration will take place. This can be as simple as a meeting with local women’s organizations or women leaders to discuss the project, provide information about the process and the law as it relates to women, and then to solicit their input and assistance on how best to ensure women know they have a right to be registered as joint or co-owners and how to implement that right. Identifying and involving women’s organizations will help throughout the project. Local organizations can influence men within households, create pressure to jointly register property, as well as oversee that women are included.

Another critical step will be to ensure that all the documents involved in systematic registration have room for at least two names. If there is only one signature line, only the head of household, usually a man, will sign.

Educating and training project personnel, stakeholders, and beneficiaries about the law and about the value and importance of women’s names being included on the documents is also critical. Beneficiaries, both men and women, will need to understand the process for registering, including, what is required for registration (are there identification documents required, for example) and how much it will cost. Registration personnel can be required to explain the law and to have all adults, who use the land in any capacity, present at the time of demarcation of the land

There are positive examples of incentives being offered for jointly registering property. For example, the cost for the registration can be lower for joint registration than individual registration. The stamp duty might be waived for joint registration, or other financial incentives can be provided.

Finally, if possible, having women as well as men hired as personnel on the project can encourage women to be more engaged. Being gender inclusive in hiring registrars, surveyors, and community educators is likely to lead to more women being named on documents.

Module 4 of the FAO technical guide: Governing Land for Women and Men provides a good checklist of practical steps that can be taken.

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